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Natalism (also called pronatalism or the pro-birth position) is a belief that promotes human reproduction. The term is taken from the Latin adjective form for "birth", natalis. Natalism promotes child-bearing and parenthood as desirable for social reasons and to ensure national continuance. Natalism in public policy typically seeks to create financial and social incentives for populations to reproduce, such as providing tax incentives that reward having and supporting children. Adherents of more stringent takes on natalism may seek to limit access to abortion and contraception, as well.


The level of natalism varies between individuals. One extreme end of the spectrum of views presents natalism as a life stance and holds natalism as of ultimate importance.[citation needed] Philosophic motivations for natalism may include that of considering value in bringing potential future persons into existence.


In religion[edit]

Many religions (including Islam and Judaism[1]) and some branches of Christianity (including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints[2] and the Roman Catholic Church[3][4][5]) encourage procreation.

The Amish are among the fastest-growing populations in the world, with an average of 6.8 children per family.[6]

A recent movement among conservative Protestants, known as the Quiverfull movement, advocates for large families. Some scholars[which?] note that Quiverfull resembles other world-denying fundamentalist movements which grow through internal reproduction and membership-retention - such as ultra-Orthodox Jews, Amish, Laestadian Lutherans in Finland and Salafis in the Muslim world. Many such groups grow relative to other categories as seculars and moderates have transitioned to below-replacement fertility.[7][8][9]

Political fecundism[edit]

Natalism to increase the numbers of a group and, consequently, its political influence is called ‘fecundism’.

In practice, it is difficult to prove whether a group is conducting fecundism, or if high birth rate is natural consequence of a group's beliefs or actions (and would therefore exist even if it would not result in greater political influence). The religious groups involved most often have long-standing principles and family structures that predate any democracies in which they may take part (although some, such as the Quiverfull movement, openly acknowledge it, and use Psalm 127:5 in its justification).[citation needed] Fecundism might change the dynamics of a democracy, as the one person, one vote principle favors larger groups over smaller.

Natalistic politics[edit]

Further information: Population decline

For a general discussion of the impact of population change on politics, see political demography.

Some countries offer financial incentives to encourage couples to bear more children. Incentives may include a one time baby bonus, or ongoing child benefit payments or tax reductions. Some impose penalties or taxes on those with fewer children.

Paid maternity and paternity leave policies can also be used as an incentive. For example, Sweden has generous parental leave where parents are entitled to share 16 months paid leave per child, the cost divided between both employer and State.


Nativity in the Western world dropped during the interwar period. Swedish sociologists Alva and Gunnar Myrdal published Crisis in the Population Question in 1934, suggesting an extensive welfare state with free healthcare and childcare, to level the number of children at a reproductive level for all social classes. Swedish fertility rose throughout World War II (as Sweden was largely unharmed by the war) and peaked in 1946.

Today, Sweden has generous family politics, but the Total Fertility Rate is lower than 2.1. Instead the population growth is because of immigration.[citation needed]

In 1946 Poland introduced tax on childlessness, discontinued in the 1970s, as part of Communist natalist policies. Soviet Union had a similar tax from 1941 till the 1990s, to replenish the population losses incurred during the Second World War.

Nicolae Ceaușescu's Communist Romania severely repressed abortion (the most common birth control method at the time) in 1966[10][11] and forced gynecological revisions and penalizations for unmarried women and childless couples. The birthrate surge taxed the public services received by the decreţei 770 ("Scions of the Decree 770") generation. The Romanian Revolution of 1989 was followed by a fall in population growth.

Some countries with population decline offer incentives to the people to have large families as a means of national efforts to reverse declining populations. Some nations such as Japan, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan have implemented, or tried to implement, interventionist natalist policies, creating incentives for larger families among "native stock."[citation needed] Immigrants are generally not part of natalist policies.

Another government which has openly advocated natalism is the Islamic Republic of Iran, following a tremendous loss of their population to the Iran–Iraq War. The government encouraged married couples to produce as many children as possible to replace population lost to the war.

According to Tibetologist Melvyn Goldstein, natalist feelings run high in China's Tibet region, among both ordinary people and government officials. Seeing population control "as a matter of power and ethnic survival" rather than in terms of ecological sustainability, Tibetans have successfully argued for an exemption of their ethnicity from usual Chinese family planning policies, such as the one-child policy.[12] Natalist literature among the Tibetan exile community discourages sex with foreigners, however it is not particularly successful.[13]

In a 2004 New York Times editorial, David Brooks[14] expressed the opinion that the relatively high birthrate of the United States in comparison to Europe could be attributed to social groups with "natalist" attitudes. The article is referred to in an analysis of the Quiverfull movement.[15] However, the figures identified for the demographic are extremely low.

In the United States, former US Senator Rick Santorum made natalism part of his platform for his 2012 presidential campaign.[16] This is not an isolated case. Many of those categorized in the General Social Survey as "Fundamentalist Protestant" are more or less natalist, and have a higher birth rate than "Moderate" and "Liberal" Protestants.[17] However, Rick Santorum is not a Protestant but a practicing Catholic.

In May 2012, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan argued that abortion is murder and announced that legislative preparations to severely limit the practice are underway. Erdogan also argued that abortion and C-section deliveries are plots to stall Turkey's economic growth. Prior to this move, Erdogan had repeatedly demanded that each couple have at least three children.[18]


Main article: Antinatalism

Official anti or pro-natalist policies can be oppressive of reproductive rights, depending on how they are structured and enforced.

Antinatalism may also be included in concern of overpopulation and its effects, e.g. as a mitigation of global warming and societal or moral decline.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Twerski, Rebbetzin Feige. "Joys of A Large Family". Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  2. ^ First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles (September 23, 1995), "Gospel Topics – The Family: A Proclamation to the World", (LDS Church), retrieved 2013-12-11 . See also: The Family: A Proclamation to the World
  3. ^ Pope Paul VI (1968-07-25). "Humanae Vitae: Encyclical on the Regulation of Birth". Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  4. ^ Pope Pius XI (1930-12-31). "Casti Connubii: Encyclical on Christian Marriage". Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  5. ^ Pope John Paul II (1981-11-22). "Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio: On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World". Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Retrieved 2008-11-12. 
  6. ^ Ericksen, Julia A; Ericksen, Eugene P; Hostetler, John A; Huntington, Gertrude E (July 1979). "Fertility Patterns and Trends among the Old Order Amish". Population Studies (33): 255–76. ISSN 0032-4728. OCLC 39648293. 
  7. ^ Kaufmann, Eric. 2011. Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century. London: Profile Books.
  8. ^ Sneps .
  9. ^ Toft, Monica Duffy (2011), "Wombfare: The Religious and Political Dimensions of Fertility and Demographic Change", in Goldstone, JA; Kaufmann, E; Toft, M, Political Demography: identity, conflict and institutions, Boulder, CO: Paradigm Press .
  10. ^ Scarlat, Sandra (May 17, 2005), "'Decreţeii': produsele unei epoci care a îmbolnăvit România" [Scions of the Decree': Products of an Era that Sickened Romania], Evenimentul Zilei (in Romanian) .
  11. ^ Kligman, Gail (1998), The Politics of Duplicity. Controlling Reproduction in Ceausescu's Romania, Berkeley: Univ. of California Press .
  12. ^ Goldstein, Melvyn; Cynthia, Beall (March 1991). "China's Birth Control Policy in the Tibet Autonomous Region". Asian Survey 31 (3): 285–303. doi:10.1525/as.1991.31.3.00p0043x. 
  13. ^ Barkin, Gareth; Childs, Geoff (2006-03-30). "Reproducing Identity: Using Images to Promote Pronatalism and Sexual Endogamy among Tibetan Exiles in South Asia". Visual Anthropology. doi:10.1525/var.2006.22.2.34. 
  14. ^ Brooks, David (2004-12-07), "The New Red-Diaper Babies", The New York Times, retrieved 21 Jan 2006 .
  15. ^ Joyce, Kathryn (27 November 2006), "'Arrows for the War'", The Nation, retrieved 10 March 2015 .
  16. ^ Seung Min Kim (15 January 2012). "Santorum: More babies, please!". Politico. 
  17. ^ "Modern Protestant Natalism". Dialog (Wiley). 2010. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6385.2010.00517.x. 
  18. ^ "US, Turkey: abortion" (article). Reuters. 2012-06-03. 

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